7-29-2010: New (uprighted) video loaded on "Nitty Gritty" :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Return to Land Legs

Even after dancing the night away last night, we were all up at 7 am to see the boat through the Juan de Fuca straits for the home stretch. We gathered up on the top deck and cheered as the pilot stepped on board to see us into port. It was an exhilerating moment that was topped off by Leslie singing "I'm leaving on a jetplane" over the PA to celebrate reaching 2000 fans on Facebook. (Thanks to all of you that joined by the way. We hope you continue to follow the JR long after this expedition becomes distant memory.) The top deck was full of excitement - even more excitement than when we boarded the JR. Just an awesome feeling. And awesome to see land again. Around 8:45 this morning, we officially "landed" when the first rope was thrown and tied up. After the crew set up our gangway, it took a grand total of 20 minutes for Canadian customs to clear us for departure and only seconds for several of us to jump ship and head for the hotel. After overwhelming the bellboy with all our luggage, we jetted off to the first eatery we could find for a non-galley breakfast. It felt so great to walk more than 50 feet in one direction then just keep going. It was the little things we missed - trees, shops, streets, street lights, grass, variety in the scenery.... It was SO wonderful to just return to normal life.

I spent my first day back on land wandering around Victoria, re-familiarizing myself with the streets and the scenery and enjoying some good ol' window shopping. Around 3 pm, I checked in to my hotel room (a double suite!!) and crashed for a good 3 hours. I slept better than a rock! When I awoke, I was ready for some nourishment (ate Vietnamese!) and join the post-cruise party. Then it was time for a nice shower (in bathtub!) and beauty rest in a queen size bed. Ah, wonderful day back on land!

I thought I would have some serious sea legs but I walked off the boat thinking "I feel normal. This is great! No sea legs!" The thing about sea legs though (and plane turbulence actually) is that you don't feel it when you're moving - only when you're standing or sitting still. I didn't stumble or walk into people inadvertently like I expected to. Instead, I had my first "sea legs" moment standing stationary in the bathroom washing my hands. Just as I was rinsing off the last bit of soap, I felt myself leaning and had to take a step backward to keep from falling over. In that small bathroom, I could actually feel the room gently swaying. Weird. My second "sea legs" moment came as I was laying in the grass looking up at the clouds and feeling the gentle breeze. I could feel the earth gently swaying back and forth and I could feel gravity increasing gently then decreasing as if I was still on the boat. I had to get up and walk to feel like I was on land again.

Other surprising sensations were:
-- my inability to operate my cell phone. How do I turn this thing on again?
-- forgetting my PIN number. I literally stared at the ATM for a solid 30 seconds before trying three different numbers. Fortunately, the third time was a charm and I was able to get cash for the artisan market down the street.
-- enjoying TV. After 2 months of "Armed Forces Network" (the only network that broadcasts to the Pacific Ocean), I really enjoyed flipping through some familiar channels.
-- having a blast dancing. I'm not much of a dancer unless I'm *very* comfortable with the people I'm with. Apparently, after sailing with this crew for 2 months, I felt comfortable enough to get down with Salt N Pepa and Lady Gaga. Didn't think I'd be dancing at all but I'm glad I did. I had a great time.
-- being a little sad to leave. I was so excited to get off the boat, I didn't think I would be the slightest bit sad. I waited so patiently for this day but now that it's here, it's a bittersweet moment saying good-bye to my new friends and colleagues. I'm confident, though, that we've fostered a bond that is for life. There is nothing like sailing in that respect.

It was a long 2 months but at the same time, it almost feels like I never left Victoria. Except now, I have 2 months' worth of memories and 50 or so new friendships to carry back to normal land-locked life. Despite the challenging moments, I'm glad I went on Expedition 327. I would not have traded this experience for the more convenient 2 months on land. I hope you all enjoyed following the blog as much as I enjoyed writing the entries. Until the next cruise, thanks for riding along on my JR journey! :)

Saturday, September 4, 2010


What a change in mood from yesterday! Last night, we were all chanting "Last core! Last core!" when, at 10:45pm, our last core of the expedition came on deck. It was very hectic in the last hours of coring. We had two cores less than an hour apart with 19 - 22 samples each! We were definitely got our work out running up and down the stairs trying to process our samples fast enough not to disturb the microbes living in the sediment.

As soon as we arrived in the lab with our last samples, we started decompressing - cleaning up the lab, processing and washing the last samples, autoclaving (sterilizing) the last of the tools we'll need, finalizing notes and getting all that mud off our hands and work area. I finished processing the samples around 4am this morning and crashed! I slept until noon when the steward knocked on my door waiting to clean our room. SOO nice to just sleep knowing all the science is done! :)

We started back to port around 9 this morning. We're going slow so that the drill rig crew has enough time to clean up the drill floor and the moon pool areas. Look how efficient they are - they already have the platform for the gangway in place! They've been working so hard!!

Today is a gorgeous day! Blue skies, scattered clouds and a nice cool breeze.

Lots of activities today to celebrate our last day at sea. Stephanie premiered her CORK animation today in the movie She's our resident graphic artist and part of the outreach team. We also have a fashion show scheduled for this afternoon on the catwalk for all those who made fabric-y things on board with one of our scientists, Katie. Check out my cool JR vest! It's still in progress but I like it so far. Bejonty made my microbe hat. Thanks BJ!

We're all very chipper today as opposed to yesterday when we were all asking each other "Are we there yet?" We're all VERY excited to be underway, to pack up our things and to know that we'll be on land in less than 24 hours! And can you believe that after 63 days, we still have lettuce and lemons?!

It's going to be a busy day today too as we all scramble to get our data and e-mails off the server and pack our personal belongings. Oh, but what a change in mood in less than 12 hours! I can only imagine what stepping off the gangway will do for our spirits. :)

Friday, September 3, 2010


Last day of coring! Last core has to be on deck tonight by 10:30pm then the drill crew is bringing up all the pipe and securing the drill floor equipment for transit back to port. We start our transit at 10:30 tomorrow morning.

In between cores on deck, I've been busy tying up loose ends - little things that I haven't finished yet. I'm writing these little stories about microbes for the illustrator to paint pictures for and we hope they go into a children's book someday. I'm also writing up a summary of my interactions with you for our cruise report. Believe it or not, you are a very important part of our work here on the JR and everyone wants to hear about how much you've enjoyed reading the blog and checking out the pictures. Didn't know you all would become celebrities just by reading my blog and posting questions, did you? Well, you did! :)

Yay for the last day of science! It's been a long 2 months but we got A LOT accomplished! Tomorrow, we head back to land. :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Our drilling tool got stuck last night and the drilling crew had to spend 12 hours pulling the drill pipe up, fixing the tool and putting it back down again. :( Bummer!! In the meantime, though, we've been packing up the lab and deciding which stuff we want to keep on the ship for the crew on the next expedition and which stuff we need to ship home. Seems like everyone else has started to do some major packing too. Bubble wrap everywhere!!

I'll try to make use of this free time to take some pictures around the ship and get them posted. No promises but I'll try. :)

Today is a beautiful day. The past couple of days have been gloomy, rainy and foggy. Today, the sun is out (for a little while, at least) and it's a beautiful day at sea. Speaking of which, gonna go get my Vitamin D for the day. And maybe take advantage of those lemons in the kitchen. :)

68 hours til land!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


How are we down to 4 already? Wow! Time flies! Today is more sediment coring so the lab is full of crazy science. In one small lab, we have three people working on squeezing the water out of the sand and mud, 1 person working on prepping samples for chemistry work and the two of us microbiologists prepping samples for microscope and DNA work. We often get to laughing about how much we bump into each other trying to get through the small passage ways. You gotta laugh. After all, we're all "old friends" now that we've sailed together on this expedition.

Not much else to report today. Just more coring and processing and writing of cruise reports. We haven't had time to pack or do much else.

Yay for still having lemons and lettuce! Ah, it's the little things that make life wonderful! :)